US policy versus Iran has reached new heights of desperation and new lows in terms of undermining international law and norms.
In Washington’s losing battle to maintain hegemony in the Middle East at the expense of the actual people and nations that exist there – it has resorted to high-level assassinations, unilateral strikes against targets within sovereign nations against the expressed will of the governments presiding over them, all while exposing what appears to be growing American military, political, and economic impotence.
In sharp contrast, nations like Russia and China have made gains as Washington’s flagging fortunes create a power vacuum in the region. Rather than replacing the US as regional hegemons themselves – Moscow and Beijing are extending their multipolar concept into the Middle East – assisting nations in rebuilding themselves after years of US-engineered and led conflict, warding off additional conflict the US is attempting to use to reassert itself in the region, and allowing nations to stand on their own and pursue their own interests independently of the traditional spheres of power established during the age of empires.
US Think Tanks Out of Ideas
Corporate-funded US policy think tank – the Brookings Institution – and one of its senior fellows Daniel Byman – recently published an article titled, “Is deterrence restored with Iran?,” in which several good points are made – but many more revealing aspects of America’s increasingly sick and out of touch foreign policy are exposed particularly in regards to Iran.
Byman’s writings are important to consider since Byman signed his name alongside several other prominent Brookings fellows upon the institution’s 2009 paper, “Which Path to Persia? Options for a New American Strategy Toward Iran”, in which the groundwork for everything that unfolded before and since 2009 regarding US policy toward Iran was laid out in great detail.
The 2009 paper included US plans to undermine Iranian political and social stability through targeting its economy and funding opposition groups and protests – which the US subsequently did. It included plans to fund and arm militants to carry out violence aimed at coercing or overthrowing the Iranian government – which the US also did. It also included plans to covertly provoke war with Iran to serve as a pretext for US-led regime change – which the US is clearly and repeatedly attempting to do.
More interesting still is that the paper also included plans to lure Iran into a peace deal specifically for the US to make claims Tehran failed to honor it and to serve as a pretext for war. It is interesting because not only did the subsequent “Iran Nuclear Deal” fulfill the paper’s requirements, the machination unfolded over the terms of two US presidents – Barrack Obama and Donald Trump – serving as a reminder that special interests drive US foreign policy, not America’s elected leaders, and that the agendas of these special interests transcend US presidential administrations rather than find themselves subjected to them.
Byman’s recent article – one might expect – would be full of revisions and fresh ideas regarding US foreign policy in the Middle East and policy regarding Iran – considering the plans laid out in the 2009 paper have dramatically failed.
Instead it is filled with tired narratives including unfounded accusations that Iran seeks nuclear weapons or is funding “terrorism” across the region rather than reacting to real US-sponsored terrorism in the form of Al Qaeda, its affiliates and the so-called Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
It is now common knowledge that these terrorist organizations have been openly armed and backed by the US and its allies in their failed bid to overthrow the government of Syria, pressure the government of Iraq, and defeat Houthi fighters in Yemen.
Other tired narratives laid out by Byman include feigning knowledge of Israel’s role as a US proxy and that Israeli aggression is used as an intermediary for Washington’s regional designs.
If US policymakers are this detached from reality – or at least their explanations to unwitting audiences they are attempting to sell policy to are this detached – the policies they are attempting to sell will be entirely unsustainable. The growing public backlash and increasing lack of cooperation from opposing nations, neutral states, and even long-time US allies is testament to this.
Time is on Iran’s Side
Byman’s article attempts to argue that recent US aggression was aimed at restoring “deterrence.” Since the US is in the Middle East, oceans and continents away from its own shores, occupying nations surrounding Iran illegally, coercing others to accept perpetually hosting US troops and suffer US interference, the term “deterrence” is entirely inappropriate.
The recent US aggression was meant instead as an attempt to reassert US primacy in the region by beating back Iranian gains toward uprooting it. But US aggression at this level doesn’t signal strength or resovle – it signals recklessness and desperation – recklessness and desperation Tehran most certainly has taken note of.
Byman does make important admissions. At one point he admits (emphasis added):
Resolve may also favor the Iranians. Even ignoring President Trump’s vacillations on the use of force in the Middle East and on whether or not to negotiate with Iran, Americans are increasingly weary of deploying troops in the Middle East and skeptical of war with Iran. Iran, for its part, sees a friendly regime in Iraq as a vital interest and otherwise is playing a long game in the Middle East. Even more important, the United States has threatened the Iranian regime’s survival, its ultimate vital interest.
And indeed, this is entirely true – time is on Iran’s side. It is a nation that resides in the Middle East, neighbors Iraq, is in close proximity to Yemen, Syria, and Lebanon, possesses extensive historical, cultural, religious, economic, and military ties across the region, and seeks self-preservation alongside its allies – all factors that are likely to survive even the most extreme forms of aggression and interference by Washington.
Washington on the other hand indeed faces growing discontent at home, limits placed on its military adventurism by both improved military technology possessed by nations it is targeting and the reality of a global economy in transformation.
The US is still capable of inflicting immense damage against Iran and its allies in the region. Iran – while noting US recklessness and desperation – will continue to pursue a policy of patient persistence. Iran’s strategy is augmented by support from Russia and China who are likewise patiently waiting out the terminal decline of America’s unipolar world order.
Continuing a policy that is entirely unsustainable is a mixture of desperation and delusion. Byman and others serving US special interests within the halls of America’s corporate-funded policy think tanks are unable to openly discuss the need to pivot away from policies predicated on global hegemony and toward the more sustainable multipolar policies pursued by nations like Russia and China now displacing American power and influence around the globle.
But because of this, US policymakers will continue to sell increasingly unattractive narratives a growing number of people both in policy circles and even in the general public will turn away from.
Like any enterprise – US hegemony has over the decades attracted many investors and shareholders. And like any enterprise – when times change and the business model used to sustain that enterprise is no longer viable, significant reforms must be made or investors and shareholders should begin to divest and look elsewhere for better fortunes. Considering US policy toward Iran and many other nations appears hopelessly mired and increasingly desperate with no signs of legitimate reforms in the works, investors and shareholders most certainly should begin divesting and looking elsewhere.
Only time will tell what will take the place of the current interests driving US foreign policy, but what is certain is that US foreign policy in its current form is in terminal decline. Its designs toward Iran in particular will complicate the lives of and inflict suffering upon the Iranian people, but the designs laid out in 2009 by US policymakers and pursued ever since have failed to reap the desired results. Little the US can do now can change this.
Apex desperation is often followed by calamitous defeat and decline. An example of this in US history was clearly demonstrated throughout the Vietnam War until its conclusion. Very rarely do individuals, enterprises, or nations that reach the desperation US foreign policy versus Iran has reached make their way successfully through it – and nothing being said, written, or done in Washington suggests that the US will fare any differently this time.